Amateur triathlete Joel Einhorn suffered a brain injury after crashing his bike in 2008. He couldn’t sleep for two days, nor close his eyes without spinning, says Gordy Megroz on Bloomberg. Then, two weeks later, he met an Ayurvedic doctor at an Indian restaurant, who recommended herbal remedies. His head began to clear, and after three months of taking the herbs, he was swimming, running and biking again. The treatments “were good for stamina, endurance, anti-inflammation, and recovery”, says Einhorn.
In 2013, he started to build a business around the concoctions he made by mixing the herbs with green tea and honey. “It tasted awful,” he says. “But there was no doubt that it was allowing me to maintain a higher level of performance.” With the help of another Ayurvedic doctor, Einhorn honed the recipe to include ghee, sesame oil and sugar cane, making a black paste he called Hanah One after a coastal road in Hawaii. A $1m cash injection from investors, including Mars chairman Stephen Badger, improved the packaging, and endorsements from mountaineer Jimmy Chin and snowboarder Travis Rice helped Hanah One achieve cult status. Sales to consumers, who add the paste to coffee and tea, now amount to $50,000 a month.
The public’s fascination with tracking down their ancestors has led to a boom in businesses specialising in analysis of DNA. The small but rapidly growing market is expected to be worth $340m by 2022, says Mark Williams in The Guardian. The sector is currently dominated by large American firms, such as AncestryDNA and 23andMe, which is backed by Russian tycoon, Yuri Milner, and Google Ventures. However, one of the smaller, but no less promising players, is located right here in the UK. Somerset-based Living DNA was founded by David Nicholson last year.
A one-off £120 fee gets you a swab kit that arrives by post. After eight to 12 weeks the detailed, easy-to-understand results are ready, along with lifetime access to your personalised online report. “We’ve developed algorithms that can map a person’s DNA mix across 80 world regions,” says Nicholson, an expert in the field, who in 1999 founded Living DNA’s parent company, DNA Worldwide. “The one question that societies through the ages always ask is: what is our purpose – why are we here and how did we get here?” That’s what he aims to help people answer. “Held within our DNA code is the history of humanity.”
Sending the yachting market to sleep
In 2000 Mark Tremlett and his business partner Peter Tindall spotted a rather niche market, he tells Matthew Caines in The Daily Telegraph – mattresses for beds in yachts. “Why would you buy a boat for half a million pounds, only to sleep on a £30 piece of foam?” The pair launched Naturalmat – mattresses made from organic fibres and aimed at the yachting market. A year later, and with a baby on the way, Tremlett spied another niche, this time in the nursery sector.
Within two years, breathable, natural-fibre mattresses for babies accounted for 80% of Naturalmat’s sales. In 2011 a chance meeting with Simon Woodroffe, founder of Yotel, saw Naturalmat branch out again – this time providing bedding for Woodroffe’s new hotel in New York. By 2015, 60% of its sales were to hotels.
Now, with an annual turnover of £3m, Naturalmat is going after consumers. The company has recently opened a showroom in Chiswick, south west London. “Most bed retailers are fusty, dreadful places,” says Tremlett, where people feel too self-conscious to test the mattresses properly. So their store features a “Sleep Zone”, where customers can try the Devon-made mattresses in softly lit “sleep pods”.